A large fallen branch blocked two lanes of traffic next to Langley City Hall for several hours Saturday. A wind storm knocked down trees and caused power outages.

Updated: storm rocks Langleys, Lower Mainland

Winds gusting to 90 km/h toppled trees and power lines Saturday

Winds peaking at 90 km/h brought chaos to the Langleys and the rest of the Lower Mainland on Saturday.

The wind knocked down branches and power lines, causing widespread outages and property damage.

At the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove, the wind knocked down some of the animal enclosure fences, forcing a shutdown. The zoo was evacuated at approximately 11:30 a.m. Saturday due to flying tree branches and debris.

“Shortly after this, the zoo had several large trees fall on fences surrounding animal enclosures, and went into their emergency protocol for those types of circumstances.

“All of the staff performed extremely well under great pressure and although fences did come down, none of the animals escaped or were injured,” zoo general manager Jody Henderson said.

Many roads, including sections of 16 Avenue, Robertson Crescent, 38 Avenue, 58 Avenue, 64 Avenue and Downes Road, were partially or entirely blocked by fallen trees.

Police and fire were busy responding to calls of downed lines in the Township, taping off potentially hazardous areas and re-directing traffic until BC Hydro crews could arrive to make repairs.

The Langley Rams had to postpone a Saturday evening game until Sunday afternoon because there was no power at the stadium.

A Sunday marathon scheduled for the historic Langley Speedway in Campbell Valley Park was called off due to trail damage.

The Otter Co-op main retail centre on 248 Street near Fraser Highway was without power for three days.

In Langley City, a large branch fell across the street from city hall, blocking traffic in one direction until heavy equipment arrived to remove it. People who tried to report the fallen branch by phone told The Times they had trouble getting through to the municipal works yards.

At the height of the storm, the BC Hydro website went down, unable to handle the huge number of service outage inquiries. It was later restored. The BC Hydro Twitter feed called the wind storm the worst in terms of power outages since 2006.

The high winds disrupted SkyTrain service when a tree fell across the tracks and damaged a train.

Rough water delayed some BC ferries and forced a temporary shutdown at the Pacific National Exhibition.

Estimates put the number of people without power at 500,000 at the height of the outages.

There was one report of serious injury, a woman who was hit by a tree in Surrey.

As of Tuesday morning, Hydro reported 5,100 customers in the Lower Mainland were still without service, but the utility hoped to have most of them back online by the afternoon.

Among those still in the dark were 1,800 Langley-area customers, mostly in rural neighbourhoods, and mostly small pockets of less than a dozen customers.

The biggest group of Langley customers still in the dark was in the area south of 78B Avenue, west of 78 Avenue, north of 72 Avenue and east of 209 Street where 281 clients were still without service.

— with files from Kurt Langmann, Black Press

 

Below: A police officer directs traffic around a sagging utility line on 216 Street and a Township of Langley fire fighter tapes off a section of 236 Street near 32 Avenue on Saturday after a storm damaged power lines. Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

 

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